BOSTON — Had you told Steven Stamkos before Thursday night's game with the Bruins the Lightning would botch two five-on-three power plays, he would have looked at you cross-eyed.
"Five-on-three, that's usually a goal for us, automatic," he said.
Had you told coach Jon Cooper that Tampa Bay would allow two shorthanded goals, "I wouldn't have believed it."
But that is what happened in its 3-1 season-opening loss at TD Garden, after which players shook their heads at failures that sabotaged an otherwise fine effort against the 2012-13 Eastern Conference champs.
"Not in a million years did I think it was our power play that would let us down," captain Marty St. Louis said.
Tampa Bay was 0-for-5 with the man advantage, including 3:25 of five-on-three during which it had just four shots. Worse, Chris Kelly scored on a penalty shot during a Lightning power play for a 1-0 first-period lead, and Patrice Bergeron scored shorthanded 4:02 into the third to increase Boston's edge to 3-1.
Those failures pushed all the good Tampa Bay did into the background. Good such as outshooting Boston 33-25 and matching it physically, with Pierre-Cedric Labrie fighting Shawn Thornton and Radko Gudas fighting Jarome Iginla.
Goaltender Anders Lindback allowed too many rebounds but did enough to give Tampa Bay a chance. There also was a spectacular rush by defenseman Eric Brewer, who set up Valtteri Filppula's goal that made it 1-1 with 9:28 left in the second period by faking out Daniel Paille in the offensive zone.
"Brewer looked like Bobby Orr on that play," Cooper said.
But the Lightning looked hopeless on the power play. It won just 4 of 13 power-play faceoffs, so puck possession was a problem, and it didn't react well when the Bruins took away playmaking options.
"That's on us," said Stamkos, who won just 9 of 25 faceoffs and had just two shots on goal. "When you have set plays and they don't go well, you have to find a way to be patient and make some adjustments, and we didn't do that."
They also were careless. Mark Barberio's ill-advised drop pass to Filppula in the neutral zone was intercepted and led to Kelly's penalty shot after Barberio hooked him. Bergeron scored after he beat Richard Panik along the boards in the Bruins zone and faked out Gudas in front of the Lightning net.
"I saw 57 minutes of good hockey and three minutes of a tough power play," Cooper said. "The power play can be fixed. It's just too bad that was the difference."
First—1, Bos, Kelly 1 (penalty shot), 11:39 (sh). Penalties—Carle, TB (interference), 2:32; Smith, Bos (hook), 10:12; Labrie, TB, major (fight), 18:04; Thornton, Bos, major (fight), 18:04; McQuaid, Bos (cross-check), 18:04; Campbell, Bos (delay of game), 18:11.
Second—2, TB, Filppula 1 (Brewer, Killorn), 10:32. 3, Bos, Lucic 1 (Krejci), 19:00. Penalties—Gudas, TB, major (fight), 9:06; Iginla, Bos, major (fight), 9:06.
Third—4, Bos, Bergeron 1, 4:02 (sh). Penalties—Thornton, Bos (slash), 2:03; Chara, Bos (interference), 2:06; Malone, TB (interference), 3:38; Gudas, TB (cross-check), 19:37. Shots—TB 15-8-10—33. Bos 6-9-10—25. PP opps—TB 0 of 5; Bos 0 of 3. Goalies—TB, Lindback 0-1-0 (25 shots-22 saves). Bos, Rask 1-0-0 (33-32).